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O.C. Ad Shop G2 Pushing Mitsubishi’s Redesigned Eclipse in Fiery TV Blitz

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America is launching its redesigned Eclipse sports coupe today with the biggest advertising campaign in the company’s history.

The more than $35-million effort will play out in the media through November, highlighted by a series of television ads directed by Mikael Solomon, the cinematographer whose special effects made fire a leading co-star of director Ron Howard’s 1992 film “Backdraft.”

True to Solomon’s background, the first of the four commercials features scenes of the new Eclipse rising from the fiery solar surface during a total eclipse of the sun and then plummeting to Earth as a blazing new comet.

The theme is a constant in each of the commercials, a blending of computer-drawn images, live action and special effects shot in the desert near Moab, Utah, said Holly Hood, art director for Mitsubishi’s ad agency, G2.

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G2 is the Huntington Beach-based subsidiary of New York’s Grey Advertising that was formed last year to handle Mitsubishi’s $100-million-plus ad account. Previously, Grey had operated a branch office in Orange County.

In addition to the television spots, the model launch includes national print, radio and billboard campaigns as well as several promotional tie-ins with MTV. Mitsubishi is a sponsor of the MTV Video Awards to be broadcast Sept. 8 and also will sponsor the rock video channel’s summer “Beach House” program through August.

Jon Stone, G2 creative director, said the campaign is aimed at the Eclipse target market of 18- to 34-year-olds and will continue after the first four ads have been aired with the further journeys of the Eclipse, “this remarkable creature,” after it has landed on earth.

The initial television ad, “Creation,” premiers today on the three largest broadcast networks and on MTV, said Frances Oda, Mitsubishi’s marketing services director.

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The Eclipse is one Mitsubishi’s signature cars--a model that helps bring shoppers into its showrooms, even if a minivan or economy sedan is what they are really looking for. The company employs about 390 people at its Cypress headquarters.

The 1995 model is a complete redesign of the original Eclipse that was introduced in 1989 and quickly became Mitsubishi’s best-selling car, with 270,000 sold through the end of the 1994 model year.

The new cars have begun showing up on dealers’ lots already, although Mitsubishi considers mid-August to be the official introduction period. The 1995 Eclipse will range from a $14,000 front-wheel drive model with a four-speed manual transmission and a 140-horsepower four-cylinder engine to a turbocharged 210-horsepower model with all-wheel drive, a five-speed transmission and a $22,000 price tag that is more affordable for those who see the ads on “Northern Exposure” than on MTV’s “Beach House.”

Mitsubishi, flush with the success of its 1994 redesign of the Galant sedan, reported last week that its U.S. sales for the first seven months were up 26% to 134,487 cars and trucks from 106,797 in the same period a year earlier. Eclipse and Galant models--both built at Mitsubishi’s plant in Illinois--accounted for more than half the 1994 total through July.

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